Calgary-based WestJet airlines has placed an order for ten Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. Also part of the deal are ten more options for 787s to be taken further down the road.
The order first of the ten 787s is expected to be delivered in early 2019, with the last of the original ten being delivered at the end 2021. The options can be used by WestJet to take delivery of an additional ten 787s through 2024. The WestJet 787s will have GEnx-1B engines.
In response to the order, WestJet cancelled firm orders for 15 737 MAX aircraft by converting them to options. Even after the firm orders were converted to options, the Canadian airline still has 65 orders for 737 MAX aircraft. WestJet will take delivery of their first 737 MAX later this year. The 15 orders converted to options are for 5 737 MAX7, 8 737 MAX8, and 3 737 MAX9 aircraft.
WestJet’s future was made much more clear by this order as it appears as if they are going to continue international and medium-long haul expansion. WestJet took delivery of its first Boeing 767-300ER aircraft in August of 2015 and has since taken delivery of 3 more. All of the aircraft are used, coming from Qantas.
The 767s were used to launch service to London Gatwick from six Canadian cities in early 2016. The 767s were also used to expand Westjet’s existing service to Hawaii, replacing 757s from Thomas Cook that were operated for Westjet on Hawaii routes.
While it is unclear where exactly WestJet will use the 787-9s to fly to, they may be used to quickly replace the 767s as they have been plagued mechanical issues leading to a bad perception of Westjet’s long haul service with many cancellations and extensive delays.
WestJet hints at some of their possible plans in their press release, stating that “The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is a state-of-the-art aircraft that is 20 per cent more fuel efficient than the Boeing 767 aircraft. With a range of more than 14,000 kilometres, the Dreamliner will give WestJet the ability to serve new destinations in Asia and South America, and to expand its service offerings into the European market.”
No specific destinations are mentioned, but this quote indicates expansion into Asia may be in the near future, perhaps capitalizing on the large number of Chinese and Japanese tourists traveling to Canada as well as the large number of Canadian tourists traveling to Europe.
To read WestJet’s official press release, click here.